Japanese Print Description

KUNIYOSHI (1798-1861)

Moronao (Kira) (with Lady Kaoyo and Enya Hangan [Asano] as lanterns in inset)
Signed:  Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga
Series: Ju-ni dan shoku Kanadehon Choshingura
(12 Acts of Lantern Kanadehon Choshingura)
Publisher:  Eisendo (?)

The historical Ako Incident, and hence the events of the semi-fictional drama, Kanadehon Chushingura, are set in motion by the characters shown in this print. The main character depicted is the villain Moronao, as portrayed by Ichikawa Ebizo.  Asano and his wife, Lady Kaoyo, are humorously shown as lanterns in the cartouche in the background.  The series title is at the right of the print, surrounded by the distinctive black and white design associated with the story.

In the play Moronao makes improper advances to Lady Kaoyo, and then he insults Asano, prompting Asano to draw his sword in the Shogun’s palace.  Asano is obliged to commit suicide for the offence and his retainers become Ronin, leaderless samurai. They vow revenge and the play revolves around their plotting and preparation, culminating in the storming of Moronao’s house and his eventual assassination.

Oban Tate-e.  Quite good impression, colours and condition.  Album backing


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